As monsoon rains and glacier melt fuel historic flooding across Pakistan, members of the Pakistan Canada Association of Kingston are fundraising to send support to those affected by the floods.
Currently, more than one-third of Pakistan is estimated to be under water according to the European Space Agency —levels of flooding never before reported in the country. Since June, more than 1,200 people have died as a result of the floods and more than 33 million people are directly impacted by the flooding.
In Kingston, members of the Pakistani community are working to raise money to provide support to agencies helping those in need.
Over the past week, the group has launched the Pakistan Emergency Relief Fund to help send money to organizations working to deliver relief and support on the ground in Pakistan.
For Ronika Umar-Khitab, the need to take action has been evident from stories she is hearing from friends and family back in Pakistan.
“We have close friends (in Lahore, Pakistan) and they said that the (monsoon) rains that were coming down were really scary, and at one point were so strong they were shaking the (brick) walls of their house,” she said in an interview with the Whig-Standard.
Ahmed Ali, another member of the Pakistan Canada Association of Kingston, said that even for families outside of the direct flooded regions, the impacts have been devastating.
“I’m from Sialkot and I’ve been talking to my family, and they’ve been affected a little more indirectly as a result of food shortage. One-third of Pakistan is submerged under water, so things like onions or tomatoes, which were probably 100 or 200 rupees, have tripled in price to like 500 or 600 rupees. So for the average person who makes around 50, 60, 70,000 rupees a month, it’s absolutely impossible to survive. It’s not just the devastation, it’s the aftereffects,” Ali said.
According to the Islamic Relief Council, more than 12 million acres of crops have been flooded, which has caused shortages of items such as rice, wheat flour and many different fruits and vegetables.
In addition to the impact that such agricultural devastation is having on the food supply — both nationally and globally — many farmers and farm labourers have lost their source of income all while food prices are skyrocketing.
“A big part of the population of Pakistan lives under the poverty level. So think of a family that lives on the outskirts of the city, where the husband and wife are making the bare minimum to survive. They’re normally working in farms or factories, and then this flooding comes and wipes everything out. Their home is gone, there is no work left. People have nowhere to fall back to,” Ali said.
Ali explained that without a social safety net, people have nowhere to turn for help.
“Its a developing country; it doesn’t have a lot of resources. (In Pakistan) they don’t have any benefits. There’s no welfare, there are no disability checks. There’s nothing,” he said.
Meanwhile, there is significant concern that the problem will get worse as the climate crisis continues.
“These floods are due to climate change. Pakistan has among the most glaciers in the world, and with all the heat (due to the historic heat wave the country experience earlier this year) the glaciers melted, and then we’ve had landslides. Then this time of year is usually when there are monsoon rains, but it was worse this year. So added together, this has been one of the worst floods in history,” Umar-Khitab said.
Despite experiencing the dire consequences of climate change, Pakistan is responsible for less than one per cent of global emissions. While more developed countries are also experiencing consequences from climate change, Zeeshan Qureshi, a member of the Pakistan Canada Association of Kingston, points out that there are many luxuries that allow citizens to turn a blind eye.
“Climate change is different for every different country. But we see it here, we feel the change in the climate. But we have so many things to fall back on that you don’t even consider climate change sometimes. But you can see in undeveloped countries how it affects the climate,” Zeeshan Qureshi, treasurer of the Pakistan Canada Association of Kingston, said.
With the devastating consequences of climate change evident in Pakistan, members of the Pakistan Canada Association of Kingston hope that the international community will donate in solidarity to support the relief and rebuilding efforts that will be required over the next few years.
“Everybody should be helping, because all these developing countries, they will be seeing the effects of climate change over the next 10 or 15 years. We have to ask: What are we going to do? How are we going to tackle this? Are going to just keep worry about our economies and ourselves, or will be thinking about everybody as a whole?” Ali said.
Source : The Whig